Monday, May 28, 2007

Rest Week

A couple of random thoughts:

It was a rest week, didn't ride much about 5 hours but actually rode the mountain bike in the dirt.

Camping must suck, I've been "camping" in the living room with Seamus for two nights with Ade out of town and the floor is hard, imagine no carpet to help soften where you sleep.

Nothing beats a bike ride with your kid. We cruised to the pool yesterday on our bikes. Every time I ride with Seamus I'm reminded why riding is so much fun. (Plus check out his new helmet with flames, I wish they painted adult helmets cool like that)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A little while...

I've been in hiding, actually just way too much going on. June is Bike Month in Colorado and June 27th is Bike to Work Day (check out for more info) so I've been working on a few things related to BTWD instead of blogging. Time is limited so I have to make choices on if blogging is more important; or are actions related to making people aware of human impact on the environment more important. I've decided the latter and as a result have been working to coordinate my company's BTWD participation, trying to get an article written and published for a community newspaper (doesn't look like they are going to use it) and a few other things that are still in the beginning stages.

Bottom line though, if you live in the Denver area try to participate in BTWD. It has a ton of cool stuff associated (free breakfast stations on bike routes, chances to win prizes, guaranteed rides home if needed) and is great for the environment and your health. With gas prices at $3.30ish a gallon riding a bike doesn't seem all bad.

I've also raced again since my last post, busted out a 7th place at Battle of the Bear, a race held just east of Morrison (Red Rocks). The course is brutal as it is fairly flat with a few short steep hills. Basically you are on the gas the entire time and there is no shade to reduce the heat. Last Sunday when racing it was in the mid 80's making the race significantly harder. Add to that a few beers and not eating well the night before because we were at a party and the racing was tough. I almost didn't race but knew the effort would be good for training and getting me going fast. With the FireCracker 50 just 5 1/2 weeks away (and a lot of shorter races before and after) I need to start working on my speed and not just my endurance. The race at Bear Creek certainly got me some speed work and let me know I have a lot of room to progress. After this week, which has been a recovery week, I will start to focus more on hard efforts (intervals) to get my speed up for racing. Hopefully with this concentrated work on speed the results will improve as well (though my first top 10 as an expert felt good it was a small weakish field).

Since the FireCracker 50 is so long I'm going to try longer intervals than I have done in the past. In past seasons I would go for 9-12 minutes at about 90% of my max heart rate (171-175 bpms). This year I am going to try for 15-20 and maybe longer at the same effort. This may seem extreme, but to give a baseline for my heart rate my averages from Chalk Creek and Battle at the Bear were 174 bpm at Chalk Creek (1:48) and 178 bpm at Battle at the Bear (1:45). There is no way in training to keep the heart rate that high for nearly two hours, so short efforts that are repeated are the best tool to get ready for racing. Hopefully I can take the longer efforts, we'll see starting Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Another Long Day

I went for another long ride yesterday, right around the 6:30 range. It was a little rough after racing a couple of days before, but the work should pay big later. The first part of the ride, about 15 minutes, was far and away the best part of the ride. Seamus and I rode to school together, his first bike commute. There is nothing like hanging out with a five year old to get you to appreciate the routine tasks in life. He was completly excited about riding, checking out birds, riding through some puddles where people had watered, cruising down the little hill by our house.

He was very pleased and happy with himself when the ride was over and we were walking into school. To me it was cool because we could have just as easily driven in, but instead rode and reduced two miles of useless driving. On the way home, even after 6:30 on the bike, we rode home and Ade joined us by walking. All in all far more fun than driving the car.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Chalk Creek Race Report

Chalk Creek Race Report, or How the Mountain States Cup went Big Time:

The first cross-country race of the year (for me) and in the Mountain States Cup was yesterday in Nathrop. The course is pretty unique for the typical MSC schedule which usually centers itself on ski resorts with big climbs. Chalk Creek is held on a cattle ranch with one short steep climb, a lot of false flats and one short downhill. There is some fun single track after the downhill, but for most of the race you are on cattle path or service roads.

I showed up to the race on Saturday with less than ideal preparation was running late and was just glad to actually make it to the start line. As SLY says to race well you need to train, eat, sleep and repeat, if you throw in a bunch of other stuff you aren’t sleeping enough and your racing won’t be great. To give you an idea of my week leading up to the race training was minimal, work was more than it should have been, my mom was in the hospital and Friday, which I had planned to take off to relax ended up with going to work at 5:30, working till 9:30, riding hard home to see field day, riding to the hospital, riding home to pick up Shay, cleaning the house, then driving with Ade to pick up car #2 after way too much in repair bills so I could race. By the time Saturday came around I wasn’t racing for fun, I was racing because I had invested so much time already this year in training and I wanted to get out and finally race.

When I got to the start area, which was about a 10 minute ride from parking, I was shocked. The little old MSC had been replaced by a full pit area, lots of team rigs, pro level signage, close to a NORBA National. It’s fun to see what a little cash infusion can do for a series, many improvements but the good from last year (and the years before) was still around. The small local club teams still had tents up, most of the people working the races were the same and many of the racers were the same. Having moved up to Expert midway through last season this was my first MSC race as an expert and I wasn’t sure what to expect after a winter of training in solitude. The race started fast, and with about 40 racers in the 35-39 age group it was tough to see because the road was very dusty. By the time we hit the first (and only real) climb I was towards the back half of the group. My goal for the race was to ride steady and consistent for the race and see how I did against the expert field. I’ve been riding a lot of hours, but little intensity so I was hoping to be able to maintain or pick people off at the end. I felt good the first lap and ripped a 33:30 first lap time which is about 2.5 minutes faster than before on the course. Starting the second lap I was riding with a few people and feeling good. I did loose ground a few times on tighter sections of single-track, mostly I think because of very limited riding on the dirt this year. Including the race I’ve ridden in the dirt 3 times this year so the technical skills are off to say the least. But overall the second lap kept me near the same people and I put in another 33:30. To start to third lap I got ahead of the people I had been riding with on the short climb and kept it going on the false flat on the top. I felt pretty good to have actually put distance on a few riders and not feel like I was out of my league in the expert race. Coming through at the end of 3 laps I was at 1:40 for the race. Three laps is the sport distance so lap 4 was uncharted ground for me. I wanted to keep steady and stay in front of the people who I had gapped on the third lap. I started the lap feeling good, but on the false flat my legs started to give and I eased up the pace. By the time of the downhill (about 8 minutes to the finish) I could barely pedal or keep the bike going. I managed to get some more Gatorade down and hung on tight to the finish without getting passed.

I ended up at 2:17 for the race. Not sure of a placing as I had to leave right after, and I mean right after, I was on the road back to Denver 20 minutes after I finished. The race was good. Clearly I have a long way to go in the Expert group but compared to the second half of last year I don’t feel completely overwhelmed. I do need to figure out how to do intervals that will get me more competitive/increase my tempo pace. I’ll start to work on that soon and hopefully by June will be even more competitive.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Almost Race Time

Finally the mountain bike season is upon us. I had been thinking about racing on Sunday for awhile, but never registered, which turned out to be a good thing since the race was cancelled because of snow and dangerous course conditions. This Saturday though is the start of the Mountain States Cup down in Nathrop. This is the start to the big races for the year and all the big guns will be out. I’m hoping to have a good race but it is hard to know how you’ll do when everyone has been training and not racing.

The more I think about my goals for this season the more difficult I am finding it to measure success. The goals I outlined in January were:

Begin to provide people information and resources on the effects of global warming
Raise $1,000 for the Environmental Defense to help research and educate on issues related to humans environmental impact
Educate people on the ease and benefits of using the bike as a means of transportation

At this point I’m not sure I’ve done a lot to reach these goals. Clearly the monetary portion has little movement thus far; however, I’m hoping to generate funds through the FireCracker 50. I’ll send/write more later on this, but I’m hoping to get people to donate between $0.50 and $1.00 per mile. I’ve been trying to provide tips on commuting and am trying to get an article in a local newsletter for June’s Bike to Work Day, we’ll see if they accept my submission.

I do think I’ve been successful in starting conversations and being a resource on issues related to global warming. After going into Shay’s class I received an email from his teacher saying four kids in the class were using one of the hand-outs I gave as an environmental chore chart at home. While it’s a small number of kids (though 20% of the class) this represents some degree of success to me. Would I like to see everyone in the class making an effort; would I like to have everyone start conversations with friends about their environmental impact? Of course, but this isn’t realistic. I know my effort is a small scale effort in a major issue, but if I can begin to make a little difference all the time and effort I’m putting in will be worthwhile to me. The old adage don’t talk politics or religion just doesn’t fit. Global warming has become, unfortunately, a political issue; however, we must be willing to bring the topic up in any company and speak with passion and intelligence on the issue and what each of us can do to protect the planet. Try to start a conversation about the environment with someone today, your efforts will help.

Friday, May 04, 2007

2 Months

Two months from today is the FireCracker 50 up in Breckenridge. In some ways it is just another race for me in a season of 15-20 races. In other ways it is going to be a special event. When I decided to dedicate my race season to raise awareness about global warming/humans environmental impact I knew I needed a keystone event, an event people could rally behind and focus on. While I spend a great deal of time racing most people don't appreciate the efforts and don't have the time to focus their attention on a season of racing.

The FireCracker 50 is a unique event, very long by mountain bike standards, an event that requires extra focus and effort to succeed in compared to a "normal" 2 hour race. If I race great the 50 will take 5 hours, and could easily take 6 hours to complete. In some ways the extra effort required to ride well on July 4th is not unlike the extra effort we all need to put in to help reduce human’s impact on the environment. We all need to focus our attention on details to win the race. For the FireCracker 50 that has involved me spending more time on building endurance this year (4-6 hour rides as opposed to 3-4 hour rides), more time focused on hydration and food on long rides, more time riding on the mountain bike to be use to the bike. Parallel to that is what we can do to reduce our environmental footprint. Spending more time sorting through our trash to make sure everything that can be recycled is, spending more time and focus on the products we use and companies we buy from to ensure we support companies that support environmental awareness. For example I have switched food products during rides from Powerbar to Clif products because of Clif's environmental stewardship.

It's the little changes, the attention to details that will help the environment and help me finish the FireCracker 50 well. I have 2 months to dig in and focus on the race; I ask each of you to spend the next 2 months focusing on the details related to your environmental impact. Take a little extra time to protect the planet.